Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cedar Waxwing Feeding Frenzy

I took these pictures last week of some cedar waxwings cleaning fruit off an unidentified tree in my backyard.

I planted this tree quite a few years ago but it's still quite short (only about 6 feet tall). I think it's some kind of a crabapple or cherry, but maybe someone reading this can make a positive ID based on these pictures of the leaves and the fruit.
The fruits are very tiny--not much larger than a blueberry or grape, but like my apple trees, this little tree was covered with fruit this year.

The Cedar Waxwings were loving this tree. There were both adults and juveniles.

You can see that many of the stems have been picked clean of the fruit.

It was fun to see the birds try to maneuver on the branches to reach the fruit. They really aren't very good clingers (especially the uncoordinated juveniles), so it was pretty comical to watch them twisting and stretching to try and grab a bite to eat.

The adult birds were much more dignified and adept at plucking the fruit off the stems.

The little tree is picked clean of fruit now, but there are still Cedar Waxwings hanging around in the yard. They have moved on to my bigger crabapple trees which are still covered with lots of fruit. I think it's going to be a pretty good winter for the fruit-eating birds in my yard.


Trixie said...

Gorgeous! Aren't they beautiful birds? It's interesting you posted this today as we had Bohemian Waxwings in our yard today. Hopefully I will get a few pictures posted of them tomorrow.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Trixie,
That's cool about your Bohemian Waxwings! I've never seen one....now I have another reason to visit Alaska!

Jayne said...

I've not seen any in soooo long. Could you send them our way when they are done in your yard? :c)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
There are quite a few here, so I would be happy to send some your way!

nina said...

I had seen waxwings before, but this year, we had the first sighting in our yard--a cherry tree visited by a flock midsummer.
I always wonder when I see something "new"--how I missed seeing it for so long. I'm sure it's been here before!

Your pictures of them are so pretty--they're such lovely, regal birds.

I thought of you when I was shopping yesterday--found myself in the hunting department and bought a blind--for photography!
Can't wait to set it out and spend the day--like a club house!
(sorry, Peter Panning again)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What fun to have a tree full of Cedar Waxwings. They nest around here due to the mulberry trees etc in the neighborhood. Such handsome birds.

Wish I could help you with the id of the tree. I'm not good with trees.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Nina,
That's cool about finally having CW's in your yard. They're one of my favorite birds and fun to photograph because they let you get pretty close.
You will LOVE your blind! We just got another one a couple weeks ago and it's so easy to put up and huge inside--big enough for my +6 ft. spouse to stand upright! Get ready to see some amazing things.....

Hi Lisa,
I planted some mulberry trees a few years ago also (thinking they were a zone 4 tree). Fortunately some of them are still living and bearing lots of fruit. I love that they are CW magnets. Do you see the CW's in your area year-round?

Marsha said...

Wow, they are such beauties. I have not seen any around here for years...you are lucky to see this great bunch.

No help on the tree id either :-)

MOM said...

Been looking thru the tree book and have not come up with anything close that I can identify. The leaves really puzzle me, it seems that there are 2 kinds, could that be? Well, any way the birds are beautiful, we hardly ever have them here. I am still seeing robins, they come to the birdbath, I've yet to see a junco.

Carolyn H said...

I love your waxwings!--especially the fifth photo. The colors in the tree match the colors in the bird! Very cool.

Carolyn H.

Susie said...

Beautiful photos Ruthie!
We don't get cedar waxwings around here that I've seen!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
When we moved to this present location, my goal in planting fruit trees and shrubs was mainly to attract cedar waxwings. I've been rewarded with their almost year-round presence for the last several years. They're easy to miss if you don't recognize their call, but if you see one you'll usually spot several as they're almost always in flocks of 5 or more.

Hi Mom,
I looked at the remaining leaves on that little tree again this afternoon and it's hard to tell if maybe there's more than one tree growing there, but on some of the branches, there are both kinds of leaves. A mystery to figure out next spring when the leaves come back again....

Hi Carolyn,
Thank you. You get cedar waxwings in Pennsylvania, don't you?

Thank you Susie. I checked in my "Birds of California" and also the Sibley western birds field guide, and you should have Cedar Waxwings in California year round. In fact, I saw some at Effie Yaw Nature Center near Sacramento when I visited my brother 2 years ago in January. I hope you see them someday!

Mary C said...

Hi Ruthie - It's been quite a few years since I last saw (and for the first and only time) cedar waxwings. I remember being on a field trip for one of my biology classes, and the instructor took us to the east side of San Jose - partially a scrub oak and partially a riparian habitat. And he pointed out a flock of birds and identified them as cedar waxwings. That was quite impressive. Right now, I don't have the landscaping conducive to attracting cedar waxwings. But, hopefully, one of these days I'll have a couple of shrubs/trees that will yield berries of some sort. Thanks for sharing those beautiful shots of such beautiful birds.

Ruth said...

We have had a lot of Cedar Waxwings around this year and I still am seeing some. Such a handsome bird, and if you see one, 20 are sure to be around. Nice pictures.

mon@rch said...

sorry, thought I commented on this! Love your series of pictures here and the waxwings are so amazing to watch and hear! Bravo work here!

Cathy said...

What an elegant bird! What excellent photos. That must have been exciting.

Mary said...


I'm jealous of your Cedar Waxwings. JELOUS JELOUS JELOUS! I want to go out tomorrow and buy some Cedar Waxwing magnet trees. Darn.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary C,
The thing about Cedar Waxwings is that they're not really very noticeable, but once you see them you can't get enough of them! I started with Russian Olives because that's what they liked at my other place, but I think they like the fruit trees and grapes even better. Mulberry so far has been their favorite and if I ever figure out what the tree is in the picture I'll let everyone know.

Thanks Ruth. They seem to be staying around longer every fall as the climate moderates. I still heard some yesterday.

Thanks Mon@rch! Have you ever banded any Cedar Waxwings? They have such beautiful feathers.

Hi Cathy,
It was pretty fun....I stepped back a ways from the tree and just stood really still till they started flocking back again (thank goodness for the zoom lens).

Hi Mary,
Go get yourself a couple small crabapple trees. Can you plant some grapes along your wrought iron fence? (or do you have 'association rules' to follow in your neighborhood regarding plantings?)